The Year of Mercy


Last November saw the beginning of the Year of Mercy for Catholics. This is a special year in which Pope Francis has called us to be especially forgiving and to go out of our ways to have mercy on others.
This has been a great opportunity for us to grow closer to God and those we encounter in our everyday lives, because we so often get caught up in our daily school life and forget to be merciful. Whether it’s studying for exams, going to sports practices, or completing service hours, we can easily become overwhelmed by immediate goings-on that we forget about larger things taking place and so forget to participate. What habits can we form so that we are being actively more merciful? How can we embrace this opportunity to improve and grow? The Roar sat down with Sister Rose of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, theology teacher, Mr. Manfredi, and student, Alex Lindquist, to discuss the Year of Mercy.
We asked Mr. Manfredi, “What does the Year of Mercy mean to you?” Mr. Manfredi took a moment to ponder his answer before saying, “For me, it makes me aware of how I interact with my students even more so than I would be normally. It makes me more aware of how I say things, how I address my students, even when I having an issue with a student, a disciplinary issue, I am more aware of ‘Am I being merciful?’, ‘Am I being compassionate?’, ‘Am I being understanding to this young person who may just need help?'”
 Sister Rose responded to the same question excitedly, “You know, besides the people we encounter everyday, we also wanted to do something special for the Year of Mercy so we (the Sisters) asked if we could give a concert to the prisoners at San Quentin, so we spent our Easter Sunday evening with them!” Out of this strictly a cappella performance (there are restrictions on taking goods in and out of San Quentin) was born a collaborative music effort. Since this initial act of mercy, the sisters have maintained contact with some of the prisoners and been working with them on a collection of Christmas songs to be recorded and released for the holiday season. Both the inmates and the sisters have been inspired to move beyond their musical comfort zones and try something new. Thus, the collection will include Gospel songs selected by the inmates, as well as more traditional, liturgical songs selected by the sister. Next, The Roar inquired, “Have you seen any changes in our MC Community since the year of Mercy was declared?”
Sister Rose thought for a moment, “I know I’ve seen a lot of the Theology teachers doing a lot of different projects and really trying to make their students aware of it, so that’s a really great thing. I also know that at one point over the prayer system in the morning, and I don’t know if we’re still doing it every morning, but we were trying to give a mercy challenge with different ways that we can practice mercy! I don’t know if we’re still doing that but that was something I really liked.”
Sophomore Alex Lindquist answered the same question, recalling that ” even on my very first day [as a freshman] I was welcomed to a loving and merciful community, which has become like a second family to me.”
Mr. Manfredi replied, “I think I’ve seen some change […] everyone is more aware of how they treat each other. During the Year of Mercy, everyone is more aware of their interactions with one another and if they are emulating Christ in their daily life.”
After listening to these three individuals talk about how they saw changes because of and made effort for the Year of Mercy, we wrapped up the interviews with the question, “What are some common things you see in our community that are not merciful and how do you think they can be improved?”
Mr. Manfredi gave a very good answer that is relevant in our lives, “I think we can all listen to each other more. I think listening and really hearing what someone else has to say can be an act of mercy,” he paused for a moment, “And I mean really listening not just hearing what they have to say and waiting for them to be done so that you can then react to it, I mean really listening to what other people are thinking and what other people are feeling. We could all do that, students, faculty, everyone. I think we’re very quick in our society to judge and jump on people when we see an opportunity but to sit back and really receive what people are saying, I think we can all do a better job of that.”
Sister Rose brought up a common act in high school settings which is forming a prerequisite image of someone before we can validate. “[For] people in general, including myself, our biggest challenge is when we see somebody, we’re tempted to judge them. I think that one of the simplest and yet hardest ways we can practice mercy is to not form an automatic judgement as soon as we see something. We need to really get to know the person, experience them, and really encounter them face to face.”
Alex concluded with a broad idea of how we could all improve, “I think people can become more involved to be more merciful if we cut out all the detrimental parts of our lives. All the gossiping, lies, hatred, all the little aggressions that seem “normal” for teenagers in today’s society. If we remove those, then we can carry out this Year of Mercy and be loving and merciful.”
These are just a handful of ways we can improve in our high school setting. There are many ways we can participate in the Year of Mercy, from cutting out microaggressions, to withholding premature and unfair judgement, to truly hearing and considering what others are saying. Pope Francis called us to become more forgiving outwardly and inwardly this year, so as we begin to wrap up this Year of Mercy along with trying to follow the above advice we should examine ourselves personally and think about what we could be doing better individually in order to become more merciful. This last year has been a chance to start embracing the opportunity afforded to us to grow in our faith and closer to each other for a better world, but let’s not let it stop on November 20th. There is no reason why we cannot continue to follow God’s call to be merciful towards each other and ourselves even without a special declaration to prompt us.